Voters in state House District 88 in Oklahoma City won't be filling the post which has been vacant the past month, according to a measure signed into law Monday by the state's acting governor.
The House of Representatives voted 80-5 to pass Senate Bill 91, which prohibits special elections from being held if a vacancy in office occurs at any time during an even-
The Senate passed the bill last week.
Lt. Todd Lamb received the bill Monday and, after consulting with Gov. Mary Fallin, who is vacationing out of state, signed the measure into law, a spokeswoman said.
SB 91 replaces a state law that calls for the governor to set a special election if a vacancy occurs in a legislative, congressional or county commission office by March 1 of an election, or even-numbered, year.
Legislators moved quickly on the bill because anyone elected to fill the unexpired term in House District 88 wouldn't take office until after this year's session adjourns in late May.
Also, lawmakers were concerned it would be confusing for voters to fill both the unexpired term as well as the regular term at the same time.
“It creates a parallel of a special election occurring at the same time a general election is occurring, which creates an enormous amount of confusion,” said Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City, the House author of SB 91.
Will save money
Al McAffrey resigned his House District 88 seat Feb. 22 shortly after being elected in a special election to the state Senate. He resigned his House post the day after election results were approved.
SB 91 had to be signed by Wednesday or else an election to fill McAffrey's House seat would have been held at the same time voters were electing a candidate to fill the same seat for the next two years.
Fallin had 30 days to set the election.
The state should save several thousand dollars by not having to print ballots for McAffrey's unexpired term, state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.
“It's not just that there's a cost associated with it, but there's also the confusion that can be presented to voters by being asked to vote for two different elections for the same office on the same date,” Ziriax said.
Had McAffrey's resignation occurred March 1 or later, the seat would have been left vacant until voters elected a successor this year. House members are sworn into their new terms after the November elections.
The earliest the special primary election could have been held was June 26, or the same date as the state's regular primary election.
The general election for both the special and regular elections for the House District 88 seat would be Nov. 6.
The earliest the candidate winning in the Nov. 6 election for the unexpired term could have taken office would have been Nov. 13, immediately after election results were approved.
Terms for legislative candidates who win the Nov. 6 election begin Nov. 16.
The candidate for the unexpired term could have been sworn in sooner had the candidate been unopposed or if no primary election were necessary.
The House on Monday also passed an emergency clause that allowed SB 91 to take effect as soon as it was signed into law. The emergency clause received more than the required two-thirds support, passing 74-5.
Earlier filing dates
State laws were passed last year to comply with a federal law requiring election officials to email ballots early enough so military members stationed overseas and registered voters living abroad can vote and return their ballots in time to be counted.
The new law added the 45-day requirement for federal and state elections to state law and moved the primary and candidate filing periods so ballots can be sent out 45 days before the elections. Ziriax said it takes almost three weeks to prepare the ballots before absentee ballots can be sent out.
The 45-day requirement also resulted in the filing periods for federal, state and judicial offices to be moved from early June to mid-April. This year's filing period is April 11-13 at the state Capitol.